Filing Deadline Extended Thanks to Emancipation Day in Washington D.C.

The deadline for filing 2015 federal income tax returns is April 18, 2016 instead of April 15. You can thank Emancipation Day for the extra few days.

Emancipation Day is a legal holiday in Washington D.C. which is observed annually on April 16. However, if the 16th falls on a weekend, Emancipation Day is observed on the nearest weekday. Since April 16 falls on a Saturday in 2016, it will be observed on Friday, April 15. The IRS will be closed, giving taxpayers until Monday, the 18th, to file their taxes.

What is Emancipation Day?

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act. The Act freed about 3,000 slaves in the District of Columbia and represents the only example of compensation by the federal government to former owners of emancipated slaves.

The Emancipation Day celebration was held yearly in D.C. from 1866 to 1901. The city council voted to resume it as a tradition and historic celebration in 2002. On January 4, 2005, Mayor Anthony A. Williams signed legislation making Emancipation Day an official public holiday in Washington D.C.

Slavery did not officially end in the rest of the United States until after the Civil War ended in 1865. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted in 1865 and formally ended slavery in the U.S.

How Emancipation Day is Celebrated

Throughout the month of April, a variety of events are arranged in D.C., such as exhibitions, public discussions, presentations of historic documents, the laying of wreaths, concerts, and poetry readings. The objective of the events is to educate people about the history of the District of Columbia and its connection to slavery.